DUBLIN (Reuters) - The party propping up the Irish government called on Thursday for the deputy prime minister to resign over her handling of a legal case involving a police whistleblower, a move that raises questions about the future of the government.
The crisis comes weeks ahead of a European Union summit in which the Irish government has an effective veto on whether Britain's talks on leaving the bloc progress as it determines if EU concerns about the future of the Irish border have been met.
Opposition party Fianna Fail, which last year agreed to abstain in key votes to allow Prime Minister Leo Varadkar's Fine Gael party to form a government, called on deputy prime minister Frances Fitzgerald to resign.
"In my opinion she should go," Fianna Fail justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan said in an interview with state broadcaster RTE.
If she does not, O'Callaghan said Fianna Fail would vote against her in a confidence motion expected in parliament next week, a move that would end the two parties' "confidence and supply" agreement and likely trigger an election.
O'Callaghan said it may be possible to resolve the issue without a vote in parliament.
But if the parties fail to agree on Fitzgerald, the government's future would be under threat.
The Fianna Fail move comes after Fitzgerald admitted she was made aware of an attempt to discredit a police whistleblower in a 2015 email but failed to act.
The case relates to a whistleblower who alleged widespread misconduct in the force. His treatment by the authorities led in 2014 to the resignations of the then police commissioner and justice minister.
(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Richard Balmforth)